Up in the northern reaches of the Bronx lies an oasis of plants and flowers - The New York Botanical Gardens. Founded in 1891, the Gardens are a living museum and a research facility. They are also a wonderful place to spend a hot summer afternoon.
Most of the 250 acres that now make up the Botanical Gardens were owned by the the family of Pierre Lorillard IV, whose parents founded what is today known as the Lorillard Tobacco Company - the oldest tobacco company in the United States. The estate is still present in the garden in the form of two buildings - The Old Stone Mill and the Stone Cottage. The Stone Mill, which sits along the Bronx River, began its life as a snuff mill. The Stone Cottage was a gate house for the Lorillard estate. Today The Mill is an event space, and can be rented for private affairs.
|The Old Stone Mill|
|Mill Entrance - above the river|
|The Mill's patio, along the Bronx River|
|The Bronx River|
At the heart of the Garden is the largest remaining piece of the old-growth forest that covered this part of New York City.
One of the oldest buildings in the Gardens is the Mertz Library Building, built in 1901. It houses the the extensive reference library along with exhibit lecture space. This year the NY Botanical Garden has been hosting an exhibit of artwork by Frida Kahlo. 12 paintings and drawings are on exhibit in the Mertz Library building until November.
|The Stone Cottage|
|Your author outside the Mertz Library|
|The Fountain of Life|
|Your Author and The Amazing Ms. D|
In front of the Library is an Allée of tulip trees. The trees are 100 years old and average 90 feet tall.
|The Two Fridas by Humberto Spíndola - based on her painting of the same name|
|Tulip Tree Allée|
But the highlight of any visit to the NY Botanical Gardens is the Haupt Conservatory. Originally built in 1902, it is an excellent example of Crystal Palace architecture.
During the Frida Kahlo presentation there is a recreation of the courtyard of her and Diego Rivera's Casa Azul. It comes complete with many examples of plants native to the Mexico City area.
The NY Botanical Gardens is also just a great place to come and walk around and enjoy the trees, lawns and flowers.
So take the subway up to the Bronx and visit the NY Botanical Gardens. Afterwards maybe go to Arthur Ave. for great Italian food.
Getting to the Botanical Gardens - Take the #2 subway to Pelham Parkway or the Metro North Harlem Branch to the Botanical Garden stop.
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